Calm Before the Storm
At the beginning of the season, optimistic projects were that Cole Hamels, the Stave Carlton second coming to end all second coming, might be a September call-up or a mid-season replacement for the beleaguered Phillies rotation, perhaps once Ryan Franklin or Gavin Floyd were cut loose or demoted.
Well, we were sort of right.
He's here, except, now, he's essentially the ace of the staff and the expected Game 1 starter, should the team make the NLCS. How can you not like this kid? In today's Inquier, Todd Zolecki has some numbers on the kid. One surprise was the three no-hitters into the 5th inning -- didn't realize that. Here's an excerpt:
-6-3 with a 2.67 ERA in his last 10.
-1-1 with a 3.97 ERA in two starts against the Florida Marlins, the team he faces tonight.
-He has taken three no-hitters into the fifth inning.
-He has pitched at least six innings in eight of his last 10 starts.
-The rookie has walked two or fewer batters in 12 of his last 14 starts.
-He has had 10 or more strikeouts three times.
While it's exciting to see the kid flash the dominance that made his minor tenure the stuff of legend, the lesson here is not about talent. It's about attitude. While he now seems to typify an almost Bond-movie leading-man style of cool, it wasn't always that way. As referenced in Scott Lauber's piece, Hamels, through injury and self-maturation, has been able to grow out of a temper which used to hamper his pitching. he no longer gets upset aboput hits or bad calls, he shakes them off and gets down to business. To say this a valuable piece of life advice is an understatement. To point out a teammate of Hamels' who would benefit tremendously from the same self-discovery, that would not only be re-stating the obvous, it would essentially be robbing Swing & A Miss of a job. So, we'll leave it unsaid for now.
But what's most exciting in all of this is that suddenly, the team, should it make the playoffs has a rotation with potentially 4 big-game pitchers in it. Hamels is the hot hand and young gun. Myers has been the de facto ace the past two seasons and the only power pitcher on the staff. Lieber's current contract was a direct result of his 2004 playoff performance and Moyer, well, he does more with less than we've ever seen. It should not be forgotten that the last season, the Chicago White Sox won the World Series with their rotation. Not so much their offense and definitely not their bullpen. The current Phils team has a better shot at following that blueprint than any of the past year's near misses.
Now, all we have to do is get there.